Lafayette's Ashanti Thomas said she was "terrified the whole night" playing against Paul Laurence Dunbar in the 43rd District finals at Lexington Christian Academy.
Thomas didn't play scared, though, and neither did her underclassmen teammates.
The youthful Generals — not a senior on their roster — held on to beat defending district and region champ Dunbar 53-49 on Friday.
Both teams advance to the 11th Region tournament in Richmond next week.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, had 10 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. She teamed with 6-0 junior Sarah Cooley, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, to give No. 18 Lafayette a strong inside presence.
The Generals had solid perimeter play, too. Dee Givens, a fluid 5-11 sophomore, had 11 points, seven steals, four rebounds and three asssists.
"I tell Dee to go make plays, and she does," Coach Allison Denton said.
Kiara Pankins, a heady eighth-grader, had 11 points and eight rebounds. Juniors Ken'yale Demus and Megumi Nagahiro combined for 10 points and seven rebounds as Lafayette won its second district title in three years.
"We fought with our hearts," Thomas said.
No. 13 Dunbar led 42-40 early in the fourth quarter when Givens and Thomas turned the game in the Generals' favor. Givens had three steals, and Thomas had two big baskets and two timely blocks to spur their team.
"Those big plays were made by two 15-year-olds," Denton said. "We're young and talented, but we were going against a Dunbar team that's experienced, that's been to Bowling Green (for last year's state tournament.)"
Dunbar Coach Sarah Bridenbaugh said Givens' steals "killed us. We didn't take care of the ball. ... We didn't keep them off the boards."
Junior guard Shakeema Jackson led the Bulldogs with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Brooke Todd, a 6-2 junior, had 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Senior Jordin Fender had nine points, and Lakeena Parks, a 5-10 senior, had seven points and nine rebounds.
Dunbar had a seven-game winning streak halted.
"We'll try to get back on that streak in the region," Bridenbaugh said.
LAFAYETTE (19-12) -- Thomas 10, Cooley 11, Givens 11, Pankins 11, Demus 7, Nagahiro 3.
PAUL DUNBAR (16-11) -- Parks 7, Jackson 18, Fender 9, Todd 13, Edwards 2.
Lafayette 13 15 9 16—53
Paul Dunbar 14 11 15 9—49
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com